23XI Racing announced a host of competition changes Tuesday, including the news Billy Scott will join its No. 45 team as crew chief for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, rekindling a pairing with driver Kurt Busch.
The move puts Scott back atop the pit box full-time for the first time since the 2019 season. The 44-year-old Florida native spent two seasons with the former Michael Waltrip Racing team before a four-year stint (2016-19) with Stewart-Haas Racing. He was most recently head of race engineering for Richard Childress Racing.
23XI also announced Robert “Bootie” Barker would return as crew chief for Bubba Wallace on the No. 23 Toyota team. Barker moved into the role last September and helped guide Wallace to his first Cup Series victory last season at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Bootie and I clicked from the start,” Wallace said in a 23XI news release. “He’s been a great addition to the No. 23 team and in just the short time he’s been the crew chief, he’s helped me on and off the track to be better every time I get in the car. To get the win together at Talladega, the first win for both of us, was really special. I’m excited to continue to build this team with Bootie and to see what we can accomplish together next season. I’m pumped to get the year started at the LA Coliseum and then head to Daytona for the Daytona 500.”
Barker and Scott will hold other roles in 23XI’s competition department, with Barker as senior setup engineer and Scott as senior race engineer. The team announced several other competition hires, including the addition of Dave Rogers, who helped Daniel Hemric claim his first Xfinity Series championship in 2021 as a crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing. Rogers will serve as 23XI’s performance director.
Scott’s most successful campaign at SHR came during his one-year partnership with Busch, who notched one win and a career-best 22 top-10 finishes in 2018. Busch left Stewart-Haas for Chip Ganassi Racing the next year.
Busch was mum about his team’s crew-chief prospects for next year during an interview session on the eve of the Cup Series season finale at Phoenix Raceway. “We’re looking all over the place,” Busch said Nov. 6, “but I believe the crew chief that we’ll end up with will be a guy that you’ve heard of before and that is a winner in the Cup Series.” Ten days later, Busch was bullish about his prospects with Scott.
“The chemistry Billy and I had together a few years back at SHR was strong,” Busch said in Tuesday’s news release. “We raced smart and built solid consistency with each other. That showed with the results and the fun the team had together. Winning races is what it’s all about and our past experiences will help build the future at 23XI.”
23XI will expand its operations for 2022, adding a second team for its second season of Cup Series competition. NBA legend Michael Jordan joined driver Denny Hamlin in forming the organization, which debuted with driver Wallace in a single-car effort in the No. 23 Toyota this season.
Busch became a free agent once Chip Ganassi Racing announced its sale to Trackhouse Racing Team in June. The 2004 Cup Series champion just finished his 21st full-time season in NASCAR’s top division, and he comes to 23XI with a streak of scoring at least one win in his last eight seasons.
Scott was a longtime race engineer before transitioning to a crew-chief role in 2014. His only action atop the pit box last season came in two spot starts for Our Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, with Cup regular Austin Dillon behind the wheel.